is a title bestowed upon citizens in the state of Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...
by the Florida Department of State
. There were actually two formal programs. Whereas the Great Floridian 2000 program honored deceased
individuals who made “significant contributions in the history and culture" of Florida (many times within a local community), the new program is more restrictive, selecting those persons, dead or alive
, who made “major contributions to the progress and welfare" of Florida.
Great Floridians 2000
The Florida Department of State and the Florida League of Cities created the program in 1998; it ran through 2000. The process bestowed commemorative blue plaques in Florida to honor deceased individuals who significantly contributed to Florida. A total of 385 persons were so honored. The historians on the Great Floridians 2000 Committee either approved or rejected applications, which included a section for specifying an appropriate historical property where the marker would be mounted.
Great Floridians Program
In 2007, the legislature resurrected, revised and formalized the program in Florida Statute:
267.0731 Great Floridians Program.--The division (Florida Department of State) shall establish and administer a program, to be entitled the Great Floridians Program, which shall be designed to recognize and record the achievements of Floridians, living and deceased, who have made major contributions to the progress and welfare of this state.
Under the Statute, each year at least two people who have had an outstanding impact on Florida are nominated by an ad hoc committee of representatives of the Governor, each member of the Florida Cabinet, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Director of the Division of Historical Resources. Subsequently, the Secretary of State chooses among them.
As of 2008, 36 people had been honored. Ten persons named in the new program were previously included in the Great Floridian 2000
program: Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary Jane McLeod Bethune was an American educator and civil rights leader best known for starting a school for African American students in Daytona Beach, Florida, that eventually became Bethune-Cookman University and for being an advisor to President Franklin D...
, Lawton M. Chiles, Henry Morrison Flagler
Henry Morrison Flagler was an American tycoon, real estate promoter, railroad developer and partner of John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil. He was a key figure in the development of the eastern coast of Florida along the Atlantic Ocean and was founder of what became the Florida East Coast Railway...
, John Gorrie
John Gorrie , physician, scientist, inventor, and humanitarian, is considered the father of refrigeration and air conditioning. He was born on the Island of Nevis to Scottish parents on October 3, 1802, and spent his childhood in South Carolina...
, Ben Hill Griffin, Jr.
Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. was a prominent American businessman, citrus grower, politician and philanthropist who was a native and resident of Florida. Griffin was an alumnus of the University of Florida, a former state legislator, a one-time candidate for governor and a patron of college sports and...
, Spessard Holland
Spessard Lindsey Holland was an American lawyer, politician and elected officeholder. He was the 28th Governor of Florida from 1941 until 1945, during World War II. After finishing his term as governor, he was a United States Senator from Florida from 1946 until 1971...
, Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance...
, May Mann Jennings
May Austin Elizabeth Mann Jennings was the First Lady of Florida as wife of Florida Governor William Sherman Jennings. She was one of Florida's most powerful and influential women.-Early years:...
, Dick Pope, Sr. and James Van Fleet
James Alward Van Fleet was a U.S. Army officer during World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Van Fleet was a native of New Jersey, who was raised in Florida and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy. He served as a regimental, divisional and corps commander during World War II and as...